Intel has recently revealed that the company is developing a successor for the Thunderbolt, DisplayPort and USB 3.0 technologies that will rely on silicon photonics and will use a new transfer protocol. The new interconnect technology should be ready sometime in 2015.
Intel said that its upcoming external interface, which is now known as post-Thunderbolt (PTB), will be able to reach transfer data rates of up to 50Gb/s over distances of 100 meters.
The external interconnect will use new data transfer protocols and will be fabricated using conventional silicon manufacturing technologies.
This should make it less expensive than the current technologies that combine electrical and optical devices on a single chip.
Intel believes that thanks to the new design approach and to the advanced manufacturing technologies, that will be available in 2015, the PTB interconnect will be fairly affordable which should enable it to make its way into a wide range of devices including personal computers, tablets, smartphones, televisions and others.
“We have to use the silicon manufacturing technologies we know. That is what the promise of the technology is. It is based on a silicon foundation,” said Jeff Demain, strategy director of circuits and system research at Intel Labs in an interview quoted by Xbit Labs.
PBT is designed to become a replacement for DisplayPort, HDMI, Thunderbolt, USB and many other computer interfaces, and it should support at least the PCI Express and DisplayPort transfer protocols.
The Santa Clara processor giant has already developed working prototypes of the silicon chips used to transmit and receive the laser signals.
Mock-ups of PTB cables were also showcased, but Intel did not demonstrate the interconnect technology in action. The cables are thinner than both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt cables.
Thunderbolt will not be abandoned and will continue to coexist with PTB in 2015.